Adapted Driving Services

Working, going to school, shopping, visiting friends, running errands - transportation is an important part of daily life. For people with disabilities, such as spinal cord injurybrain injury, and other neurological issues, the need for transportation does not change, but the way they travel may be different.

Driving With a Disability – Evaluating Mobility and Transportation Options

Shepherd Center helps clients and their families evaluate, prepare for and utilize transportation options available to them after experiencing a loss in mobility. Staff members address safety and accessibility issues, as well as the unique transportation concerns of those who use power wheelchairs.

Our team includes a certified driving specialist/ educator and occupational therapy practitioners, who are also certified driver rehabilitation specialists. The team conducts on-the-road examinations, lessons and fittings for vehicle modifications. Other professionals are consulted as needed.

Evaluations are geared to fit the individual needs of each client.

Evaluations For Mobility

  • Dependent passenger evaluations – provide recommendations for appropriate vehicle modifications when someone is not expected to drive in the near future due to physical and/or cognitive deficits. Geared for those in wheelchairs that require a van or minivan for transport, these sessions involve clients and their family members. Recommendations are made for new and used vehicles, as well as rental vehicles. Resources are provided for funding.
  • Van driving evaluations –are available for people who can operate a vehicle but require a van or minivan to transport their wheelchair or accommodate their disability. These persons may drive from their wheelchair or from a powered transfer seat. The evaluation includes a pre-assessment of physical and cognitive abilities associated with driving, as well as an on-the-road assessment.
  • High-tech van driving evaluations – are for people with extremely limited functional abilities who are able to drive through a variety of advanced technological solutions, including joystick and touchpad controls, as well as brake and steering wheel modifications. Shepherd Center has access to some of the most technically advanced driving systems on the market that are useful for clients with high-level spinal cord injuries, and for those with disabilities that limit range of motion and proximal strength.
  • Car driving evaluations – help meet the needs of people who can transfer to a car independently and load a wheelchair if they use one. Preassessments of physical and cognitive abilities required for driving, as well as on-the-road evaluations are included in the evaluation process.

How to Make An Appointment

Before an appointment can be scheduled, you MUST obtain a doctor’s referral (either and MD order that requests a "PT/OT driving evaluation" or the completed Driver Rehabilitation Referral form below). Please complete the following steps to help us schedule your appointment as quickly as possible:

• Print out our referral packet (Referral Form and Driver Rehabilitation Referral) below and have your doctor complete the forms and return them to Shepherd Center.

• Your doctor must fax the order and a copy of your medical history that lists your chronic (long-term) and acute (short-term) illness to 404-350-7356.

• If you have vision issues, your eye specialist must complete the Vision Approval form in the packet. If you do not have visions issues, you may disregard that form.

• Once your forms are received, Shepherd Center will contact you to set up an appointment.

• To contact Shepherd Center directly to schedule an appointment call 404-350-7760.

How Will I Pay for My Appointment?

• For detailed insurance coverage information and self-payment options, call Shepherd Center’s billing department at 404-350-7323.

• Contact the Georgia Brain and Spinal Injury Trust Fund to see if you qualify for assistance.

• Contact your local Vocational Rehabilitation office to see if you qualify for assistance. If you are a Georgia resident, you can learn more at the website for the Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency office.

What Can I Expect at My Appointment?

• The initial driving evaluation lasts approximately three hours.

• The first 1.5 hours is a clinical assessment. The therapist will evaluate your arms, legs, vision, cognition and balance for driving.

• The second half of the appointment is a road assessment. You will drive a vehicle with the adaptive equipment required, if any.

• Any additional appointments necessary will be made after the evaluation.

Education and Training

Program specialists provide information on purchasing modified vehicles, as well as personalized training and instruction on using adaptive equipment. New drivers with disabilities may also receive driving lessons to increase confidence and proficiency behind the wheel.

All services are designed to meet the individual needs of each client. Staff members are always available to answer questions over the phone for inpatient, outpatient and day program clients.